Penguin City owners plan for a soft opening in mid-April

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YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — With more than a dozen long-awaited brew kettles finally emerging from “shipping limbo,” the owners of Penguin City Brewing Co. expect to open their new brewhouse in mid-April.

Penguin City co-founders Richard Bernacki and Aspasia Lyras-Bernacki provided an update on their nearly $4 million renovation of the former Republic Warehouse at the Downtown Youngstown Partnership’s quarterly meeting on Thursday.

“Our tanks are finally on their way,” Lyras-Bernacki said.

“It’s been happening for a long time,” Bernacki remarked.

The 18 tanks Penguin City has ordered overseas have been stuck in “shipping limbo” since Oct. 25, Lyras-Bernacki said.

“We couldn’t do anything. We just had to wait,” she said. Penguin City learned Wednesday that trucks were lining up to transport the tanks. The transport of the tanks should begin at the end of next week.

“We’re very excited about this,” Bernacki said. “We have worked very hard waiting for this moment.”

Last year, the company purchased a configuration of Deutsche beverage systems, including a 20-barrel batch with four 60-barrel fermenters and two 60-barrel conditioning tanks, as well as a 3.5-barrel pilot system. Once operational, the system will more than double its capacity and allow it to further expand distribution to other OHIO markets.

Penguin City purchased the building from the Republic in 2019 with the intention of locating its brewing operations there and opening a bar, restaurant and event center there. In April 2021, the company secured a US$2.2 million Small Business Administration loan with Premier Bank and Valley Partners to finance the first phase of its $3.7 million renovation project at the property.

The company launched the project in August. In addition to the dining hall, the renovation plans include a restaurant and an event center.

In February 2021, Penguin City hosted Dope Cider House and Winery as the first tenant to lease space in the building.

The building’s renovation is “moving forward,” Bernacki said. In addition to the vats, he awaits the arrival of a flooring for the area where the vats will be placed, capable of withstanding the temperatures and chemicals involved in brewing. He is looking forward to having brewing operations in one place where he will have “complete quality control”, he said.

“It seems like forever once this happens, I’m sure it will feel like it will happen quickly,” he said.

The Bernackis are planning a “soft opening” in mid-April to “work out the issues” because the consumption room is “a new business for us,” Lyras-Bernacki said. They will start booking for events in the dining room in June.

“I have an event on June 4th,” she added. “We’re just putting the details together and will announce that in the coming weeks.”

They also receive inquiries from people interested in visiting the brewery and dining hall about hotel accommodations and other downtown activities, she said.

Pictured: In this August 2021 file photo, Penguin City co-owners Richard Bernacki and Aspasia Bernacki-Lyras, Dope Cider House & Winery owner Hannah Ferguson and A. Neider Architecture Principal Annisa Neider inside the old warehouse that will be the brewery’s new home.

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.

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